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Japan Trip 2016 Update 6

29 June 2016 by

Sunday was supposed to be our day of rest and we had to meet at Seishu High School for the last time on Monday morning at 7.20am in the International Room only to gather and set off for the second phase of this unforgettable journey.

We asked each and every student to make comment on this blog in regards to two things about their experience at Seishu HS and their homestay experience (including Sunday’s activities). Please find below an edited version of their responses:

Claire Bell – At Seishu High School I experienced something quite different to MacKillop College. The school system was very unique including the wearing of inside shoes and outside shoes, the structure of the school day with 10 minutes between every class and the after school, club activities

In the homestay the family was so welcoming that by the end I felt like I was part of the family. My host sister’s English really helped and her little sister seemed to sense how awkward I felt and tried to make it easy for me despite not speaking much English herself. On the Sunday we went to Sapporo TV tower and a Sushi Train for lunch. I had only been once before and this experience was a real eye opener when ordering and paying for a variety of coloured dishes. While I was eating it was easy to identify each family member’s preferences. We also went to a Japanese footbath. It was really nice because it was a public place with heated water flowing through it and families coming and going. Something I don’t think you would see in Australia. Spending time with the family opened my eyes to everyday cultural differences.

Clara Drieberg – Seishu High School was different. The people were always polite, the classroom layout and timetables felt strange and school layout was confusing because it was spread out over multiple floors. The experience was also very interesting because we were in another country and school life here is different to what I know.

The homestay was challenging because it was hard to settle in to a new home with a new family. It was hard because we could pretty much only talk in Japanese. The family were very welcoming and they tried to use as much English as they could to help me out. The experience was worthwhile because being a once in a life time opportunity and it was so different. The Sunday was a very good day because I got to spend a whole day with my new family shopping, eating udon noodles for lunch and a Sushi train for dinner. Saying goodbye was hard and rather emotional.

Dana Galvan – Before I met with my homestay family, I felt really nervous and was worried that there would be lots of awkward moments. But throughout the one week I stayed with them, I felt really welcomed and I fitted in really quickly. My host family hardly spoke English, which forced me to use all the Japanese grammar and vocabulary I had learnt at school and in my spare time. Sure there were misunderstandings, but with the help of the phone, communication was easy. I was grateful of the enormous amounts of food they fed me (but I just couldn’t say no :P) and the early morning walks with the dogs were refreshing. I went shopping with my friends and their host sisters. My only concern was if there was enough room for my shopping in my luggage (luckily there was, if I put force it in).

Sunday was a free day which I spent with the family. I went to Otaru and decorated my own music box alongside my host sister, Yuri. We walked around the place, looking at the many glass ornaments and salivating at the various cuisines that were available. We soon went to the aquarium and enjoyed feeding the seals. It was a tiring walk around the place but it was still worth it.

The farewell on Monday was more sad and difficult than I thought it would be. I’m turning off my school ‘essay’ mode so I’ll just say that in only one mere week that I was with my homestay family many memories were made and my knowledge of the Japanese culture has been extended. I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip especially once we arrive to Tokyo 😀

Erich Gentzen-Harding – At first I was very nervous about going to a strange school. I was surprised by how nice and welcoming the students were. I wasn’t used to this much attention. I felt like we were being treated like celebrities. In my first class I was really nervous about using Japanese to a Japanese student. The nerves continued as I was also nervous about my host family especially since meeting them was in a formal welcoming ceremony. I felt uncomfortable getting in a strange family’s car and then entering their house. When I used Japanese to ask questions and get to know my Japanese brother more I became more comfortable. I met my host’s mother and sister, followed by a lovely dinner and I found I had to use a lot of Japanese with my host’s mother as her English wasn’t good. For the next few days I settled in the classes well and made many new friends from Seishu.   I experienced a new environment with school finishing late and attending the Student Council meetings until 7.30pm. I found it was tiring in this new environment getting up early and going to bed late. The last couple of days my connections were growing and I didn’t want to leave my new friends. After we had the Sayonara party I found that leaving was going to be difficult. On the Sunday I went to a swimming pool with water slides and I had a fun time with my host family.

Monday came too quickly and I was very emotional with the fact we were leaving.

Ester-Rose Malanyaon – The first day of going to Seishu HS was nerve wracking, everyone was nervous meeting their host families but I wasn’t. This was because I had been talking to my host sister and messaging her through email and I felt I already knew her somewhat. The tour around Seishu was interesting, it looked like MacKillop buildings were stacked on top of each other. At Seishu I was interested in the club activities because in MacKillop we only have sports and music related activities. The students at Seishu were dedicated to their work and now that I’ve looked at how hard they work it makes me more determined with mine. We talked about the differences and similarities between Seishu and MacKillop. The Seishu HS students were surprised with what we shared and it made me realise how lucky I am to be at MacKillop.

The host family took care of me especially when I was sick. They took me to all sorts of places and surprisingly in a short period of time I felt like I was at home. Sunday was a special day with my host family and I got to know them so much better given the day didn’t involve school. On leaving I felt sad walking away from such an intense and fun experience.

Phia Papa – Words cannot explain how amazing the first week in Japan has been. My homestay family welcomed me with open arms, giving me more food than I could eat. My host sister, Saki, was kind enough to help me learn Japanese phrases and correct my grammatical mistakes everyday on the way to school. I would then return the favour by teaching and helping her with her English. The day before we had to say our farewells, we had a free day to spend with our host families. Saki, being in Year 12 this year wanted to go to a university open day and so we did. It was honestly a surprising experience. I was able to see the differences between Australian and Japanese universities in a short amount of time. We then went to the city to eat lunch and do some shopping and by the end of the day my feet were sore from all the walking. On the last day in Sapporo we had to say our goodbyes to our host families. Despite having amazing weather that morning, the atmosphere was gloomy and filled with sorrow and despair. Some cried and some took final pictures. It was difficult to say goodbye but it was alright since each one of us were able to acquire a base with which we could contact them on (example, Line and Facebook). The first week truly went by in a blink of an eye. Memories were formed. Lifelong friends were made. I can’t wait for the second half of the trip!

Madison Pretty – In just 7 seemingly short days I had gone through one of the best experiences in my entire life. Seishu high school is one of the most welcoming and friendly places I have ever been to, and having experiences in their classes was the best (even though I could barely understand the work they were doing!). From the moment I met my host sister in the school hall, and the moment we had our picture with her mother, I knew I was going to have the time of my life. I made many new friends through my host sister Maho, and we will continue to communicate with each other through numerous forms of media, to make sure our friendship lasts. I had the chance to try new foods, and experience what life was like as a Japanese High School student. We went shopping on some occasions and saw some pretty spectacular sights. On the Sunday where we had the whole day to ourselves, I went with some friends to Otaru, where we looked at the spectacular Venetian Glass, and even had the chance to try some street food, which was an amazing decision. Then we went to Sapporo station and visited the arcade and the Pokémon centre, and we had some fun in the picture booth, and I will forever keep those photos with me as a reminder of this fantastic experience. As much as I tried to stay calm about leaving, the overwhelming wave of good memories and happy times made me so emotional, and I will look forward to next year when the host students come to Australia.

Saufuri Rupeti – Only a week and I have gained a large amount of memories that would be sure to last a lifetime. Seishu staff and students gave a nice warm welcome on our first day upon entering the school. Although I was still tired from the whole day of travelling beforehand, the school community were able to change my mood in a flash. From then on out, I knew that I was going to have one of the best experiences of my life, and I did. There were many fun moments spent with students and teachers at Seishu, where we were able to share many laughs, socialise and simply talk about life. The many excursions that we took part in were such a great experience as they were able to give me an insight into Japan’s past and present. However, the real fun was spent during homestay. I would definitely say that I have gained an entirely new family. I am sure that I have created bonds that are sure to last well into the future. They were able to except me as one of their own and teach me how to live a life as an individual in a Japanese family. I gained the strongest bond with my host brother Kento. We spent the last day in a Japanese onsen. Despite the few awkward moments, the onsen was really relaxing and in a way, able to strengthen my relationship with him one last time before I left. Saying goodbye was actually difficult. Much harder than I imagined. I know it’s going to take me a while to adjust back to life as normal, but I just have to keep in mind that I will see him again when he comes to Australia, something of which I am extremely excited about. I hope that I get the chance to host him and return the favour. It is really amazing how much a week can do for someone.

Coleen Silaparamita – Staying in Sapporo was quite tiring and it was actually fun. It was quite different because before Melbourne I was in a school in Sydney and the number of subjects in Japan were similar – there were 6 subjects and it brought back memories. During lunch and break times I didn’t get much time to spend with MacKillop students but this changed especially during club activity time after school. I first got rather scared and nervous living in someone else’s home and had trouble socializing, however it gradually got better with time. As I hadn’t been doing Japanese for long at MacKillop I tried talking using my limited Japanese and they tried using their English. They had a family member who could speak English and this helped. Most nights for dinner we went out eating things like Sushi and Ramen. When we went out for dinner I got to know more about them as a family outside of the original formal introductions and greetings. We got to talk about how they would like to visit Australia. On the last day we spent time with each other and other MacKillop and Seishu High School students. Walking around, talking, eating and getting closer. That’s why the last day was hard to leave a family that had looked after me.

Lanicah Vasquez – My experience of homestay was very enjoyable. Although waking up at 6.00am every morning to catch two trains to get to school was very tiring. I would then come home late because my host sister was part of the Student Council that met every day of the week after school until 7.30pm. Then we would catch two trains back home. The routine was simple but tiring as I’ve noticed my host fell asleep a lot whether it be on the train, in class or even on the bus ride to the excursions we attended. What was interesting is that I learnt that my host sister lives this every day.

After the week of school we had the Sunday to spend with our hosts. We spent our Sunday at an Anime festival which was incredibly enjoyable especially seeing all of the different cosplayers and how much effort they put into their costumes. Afterwards we ate lunch then went to the zoo. The zoo was filled with adorable animals that we could pet unlike in Melbourne. This experience was then followed by a fun ride on a quad bike which drove into water and on land. My host family welcomed and treated me so well and they really made me feel right at home. Leaving them on Monday was really hard for me but I know I will see my host sister soon as she is coming to MacKillop in Term 3.

After saying our goodbyes we boarded the bus for a long drive to the New Chitose airport in Sapporo, then an airplane for the flight to Kansai, Osaka and finally a train ride to arrive in Kyoto to start the second leg of our Japanese immersion trip.

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